Marietta’s vision: More homeowners
by Jon Gillooly
August 28, 2012 12:28 AM | 3810 views | 12 12 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin works at his desk at City Hall. STAFF/Lindsay Fendt
Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin works at his desk at City Hall. STAFF/Lindsay Fendt
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MARIETTA — Mayor Steve Tumlin and the City Council plan to examine the ratio of homeowners to apartment dwellers and what they hope that ratio will be in the years to come during its series of committee meetings on Wednesday.

The 2010 Census recorded Marietta with 42.3 percent homeowners, up a few points from the 2000 Census of 37.6 percent homeowners.

“We’re so far behind the national average,” Tumlin said. “The national average I believe is 62 percent (homeowners) in most smaller cities.”

City Manager Bill Bruton said the Council adopted a two page “vision statement” in 2002 that spells out the future goals of the city. An action plan accompanies the vision statement and lists a series of steps in which to accomplish the vision. One of these steps is increasing homeownership to 50 percent.

Increasing the homeowner ratio brings balance, Tumlin said.

“We have a better balance both for our school system, our tax digest, our quality of life, people aren’t as transient, there’s more stability, usually they are higher wage earners that come with residential houses,” he said.

The vision also lets developers who plan to do business with the city know what the ground rules are.

“In fairness to people that might be seeing Marietta as a chance for apartments, this will let them know ahead of time,” Tumlin said. “It’s fair to them, and to me it’s encouraging residential builders to come in.”

There are a number of stalled developments in the city from the Great Recession whose site plans have already been approved by the Council. For developers who want to revise those site plans by increasing density, the vision statement also sends a message to them.

“It is already in concrete that we want residential homes,” Tumlin said. “It just reinforces that this Council will probably stick with those site-based plans. Even though times have changed a little bit our goals have not.”

Last year, Walton Communities purchased Meeting Park, the 12-acre property near Marietta Square that was hailed as the cornerstone of the city’s downtown development efforts until the economy crashed and it entered foreclosure.

Barry Teague, one of Walton’s owners, wants to build some apartments on the site.

Councilman Grif Chalfant said he’s on the side of the mayor in wanting to see the city’s apartment ratio go down rather than up.

Speaking of Teague’s proposal to add more apartments, Chalfant said, “That’s a hard sell. It’s making us go the other way. It’s not pursuing the objective that we want.”

An argument made against apartments is that while they may initially be a nice place to live, they deteriorate over the years, ending up as a drain on surrounding property values, the school system and police force.

Take for example the blighted apartment corridor of Franklin Road, Chalfant said.

“When I got out of college — I graduated from Georgia in ’69 — that was one of the best places around,” Chalfant said. “You’ve got to look at the project, not what it is right now, but how will it be five years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now.”

Randy Weiner, vice chairman of the Marietta Board of Education, said he wouldn’t stop at 50 percent homeownership but increase the goal to 60 percent.

Enrollment for Marietta City Schools, at 8,338, is already 250 more students than last year.

“There’s no empty classrooms in any of our schools. An additional high density development would lead to additional classroom space needed. So we would have to build additions to our existing schools, possibly a new school if we had significantly more density with enrollment going up. From my perspective of being on the BOE, we don’t need additional high density developments in Marietta City,” Weiner said.

But the argument isn’t just about a lack of space in the schools, Weiner added.

“High mobility is pretty much tied to high poverty, and when you have high poverty situations it does lead to special services, Title I services, other services to catch the kids up,” he said. “You’re getting re-acclimated to a new school environment, new teacher, and it just slows down the learning process especially when it happens more than once throughout the year, and typically that’s what happens.”

By contrast, a higher percentage of homeowners provides for a more stable student population, cutting down on the number of students entering and exiting the system throughout the school year, he said.
Comments
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SG68
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August 29, 2012
It sounds to me like Marietta is looking to restore a balance to their community that was lost in the mid seventies when a lot of the apartment building took place.

Nothing wrong with that.

However there is also a significant amount of the single family detached units in the city that are being rented. Mostly on the east side of the city.

These are the homes that were previously owned by the people who now live in the more upscale homes on the westside of the city.

So it's not just an apartment "problem" and it is not an easy fix.

I applaud the city for recognizing the issue and seeking to address it.

Wouldn't it have been adviseable for Walton Communities to approach the city before it purchased property in the city and ask them what their receptiveness to more apartments would be?

It seems to me that they have created their own problem and are now pressuring the city to go against their long term vision.

The land is zoned so they need to develop it according to that zoning.

vwgto
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August 28, 2012
It is good to hear folks talk about long-term implications. Let's convert the vision to a real plan.
EastCobbVoter
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August 28, 2012
The city of Marietta is an quasi urban environment. It is much more diverse than E. Cobb and has residents with lower incomes.

Using zoning laws to create more single family detached homes will just push out the poorer folks to Douglas and Cherokee counties.

People need options, not the government telling them where they can live.
Marietta Homeowner
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August 29, 2012
How does the poorer folks get pushed out when it's about FUTURE planning??

I expected more than a dim bulb from an East Cobb Voter.
Welcome to
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August 28, 2012
1985
Marietta Resident
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August 28, 2012
As much as I want more homeownership, I don't mind if Walton Communities builds a high end apartment complex on their site off the Square. In the 90's, Post Properties was where all the young professionals lived. It was like living in a high end resort. If Walton could provide that type of atmosphere, it would attract young professionals who then might purchase a home in the city, not wanting to leave the area.
anonymous
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August 28, 2012
Wow, a story without mention of "Thunder". I always get that AC/DC song in my head anytime I see a storyabout Mr Tumlin.
EastCobbVoter
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August 28, 2012
Sigh. When will we ever learn?

It's not the government's business to be promoting one class of citizen over another. We've just now gotten through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, caused mainly by the Federal Government's idiotic notion that everyone "had" to own a home. The result was ruined lives, inflated home prices, bankruptcies and federal receivership for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the near collapse of the entire financial system. Many are now trapped in their homes or foreclosed on.

And for once we got bipartisan cooperation in creating the disaster. I blame Bush as much as Clinton for this nonsense.

It's a shame to see government officials this delusional and with a vision so incongruent with reality.
goodgolly
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August 28, 2012
Agreed with EastCobbVoter and would add - shouldn't we (as a community) be in favor of companies that want to invest in our families, communities and provide jobs. Walton has a tremendous reputation for doing this, Marietta should welcome them, and maybe learn a few things about what it means to build a community.
Marietta Resident
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August 28, 2012
That is funny coming from a resident of East Cobb where there are no appartments - mostly residential. Why has East Cobb retained its value ? Could it be there are no apartments ? Why dont you let the residents who have invested in this community decide what is best for them. Not interested in outside commentary..

I agree with the Mayor and Randy on this. We need quality detached homes-not high density. We already have enough of that. This is what is best for the longterm quality for the city. And we are not saying homes should be given away like the Government/ Mortgage compainies did in the past. Its called investment...
Apartments in E Cobb
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August 28, 2012
It would be smart to add apartments along Roswell, Johnson Ferry, and Old Roswell Road.
Marietta camper
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August 28, 2012
Sigh, when will the East Cobber get it right? We are talking about zoning and planning here. Please. Don't comment unless you know even a little bit about the subject!
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